The Intersection

Chris already listed several amazing new signatories who joined ScienceDebate2008 and now we can finally announce the most exciting news yet!

NEW YORK – A Republican and a Democratic member of the United States Congress, who are each also scientists, are leading an effort to push for a presidential debate on science and technology policy.

Congressman Vern Ehlers, R-MI, and congressman Rush Holt, D-NJ, have agreed to co-chair the non-partisan initiative, called, whose signers also include fourteen Nobel laureates, several university presidents, other congresspersons of both parties, the president of the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists, and the heads of several of America’s major science organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Advancing science and technology lie at the center of a very large number of the policy issues facing our nation and the world – issues that profoundly affect our national and economic security as science and technology continue to transform our lives,” the two said in a joint statement. “No matter one’s political stripe, these issues pose some of the most important pragmatic policy challenges the next president will face.”

“We believe a debate on these issues would be the ideal opportunity for America and the candidates to explore our national priorities for the twenty-first century, and we hope candidates will wish to be involved in such a discussion,” they said.

Full press release

With two congressional scientists from both parties leading the Call for a Science Debate, it’s going to be a happy new year!



  1. #1 Coturnix
    December 27, 2007


  2. #2 Fred Bortz
    December 27, 2007

    To those who thought this couldn’t be pulled off, I hope you are now more hopeful that a productive discussion of science and technology policy will be a major event in the coming campaign.

    Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air?

    I’m blogging about this, too. Click my name for my invitation to my readers at Science Blog.

  3. #3 chancelikely
    December 27, 2007

    Nice, the Republican sponsoring that bill is my local representative. I knew having a physics professor for a congressman would come in handy someday.

  4. #4 charley
    December 27, 2007

    Chancelikely – He’s a physicist but also a Calvinist, as we discovered when he spoke to our Freethought meeting in July.

    He thinks that because God is perfect, there is no actual disagreement between the Bible and nature, but the fallibility of humans leads to disagreement between theology and science.

    I disagree with his politics and his God-infused view of science, but he seems to be intelligent and thoughtful. Good for him for co-chairing the debate.

  5. #5 Kristine
    December 27, 2007

    Well, Vern Ehlers believes that “both sides” (evolution and intelligent design) should be taught in schools.

  6. #6 helioprogenus
    December 27, 2007

    It’s funny how a significant minority of physicists buy into this intelligent design farce. Conversely, there are no biologists I’m aware of that straddle the fence on this issue of evolution vs intelligent design. These irrational physicists should get their heads out of a physics book and try to absorb some relevant biological materials.

    I can’t speak too negatively of Ehlers because ultimately, he is trying to sponsor this debate, but what would the questions be like (how they would be sugar coated) with his influence on the nature of this debate? I do wonder though whether he’s actually a firm believer in evolution but as most politicians, just pandering himself to his constituents (the conservative ID crowd).

  7. #7 Wes Rolley
    December 27, 2007

    I find this discussion to be very interesting in that I am, in my own limited way, blog hyping another debate. That one will be January 13 at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco and will be between the Green Party candidates for President.

    We had better get all of our science questions taken care of in that debate because I am sure that Science Debate 2008 will have rules written to the liking of its two co-chairs and it will exclude all but a Republican and/or a Democratic candidate.

    It might be rather like a scientist who choses to exclude from the set of evidence that they investigate any data point that does not produce the result they want to see.

    In fact, I would love to see Dr. Kent Mesplay (Ph. D. BioMechanical Engineering, Northwestern Univ.) get into a position to take part in this debate.

    It might be possible to show that the Green Party has the most scientifically sound platform, especially in relation to energy policy and global warming. I hope we get a chance to examine the possibility.

  8. #8 Hilary Burrage
    December 29, 2007

    Congratulations to those who are moving this debate on.

    If I may offer just one more observation, as a non-US citizen (a Brit.), it’s that I hope the dialogue will recognise that US science policy has huge implications for us all, Americans, Europeans, and those on other continents as well.

    There do seem to be some glimmers of hope here – for instance, the slowly improving situation re: international action on carbon emissions; but much more of course is still required.

    The most immediately important thing for me is that we all try to understand better how science and society interact and impinge on each other. This is, I think, a challenge for everybody, regardless of their starting point/s.

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